The Things She Carries

phone

For me, one of the marks of a great interview is when I think about it long afterward. The most recent one to do it for me was a Vogue video Q&A with New York’s ultimate sweetheart: Sarah Jessica Parker. The interviewer fired off 73 questions while SJP gave a mini-tour of her West Village brownstone. The decorating voyeur in me loved every bit of it; from the footage, SJP’s home felt homey and eclectic. It got me thinking: Our homes can tell our stories even more than our outfits–and sometimes, even ourselves. If someone stopped by my apartment with a video camera, how would I want them to feel? I’d hope bright and cozy, surrounded by books and bits from my travels.

My favorite question was when the interviewer asked SJP what the coolest thing was in her living room. She said her (agreeably, very cool) light-up globes. Of course, that inspired me to look around to decide what the coolest thing is in my living room. It was a hard decision—after all (most likely to the dismay of my clutter-free mother…sorry, Mom!) I don’t think of keepsakes as kitsch; instead, I see them as relics, reminders of the moments in our lives that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. In my living room, I’ve got everything from a Beyonce concert photo book (“Heeyyy, Ms. Carter!”) to a flag from my first adult trip to Puerto Rico—not to mention shelves and tables full of books. But in the end, I realized my answer to the “coolest thing” question would be the vintage rotary phone I found at an antique shop in Hoboken. It sits atop a stack of books on my desk, and I often look at it while I’m writing and wonder who might’ve used it almost a century ago. It reminds me that beautiful things are timeless, and will last long after we’re gone.

It might be time for spring-cleaning, but I, for one, am holding on to all my mementos. If someone wandered into your apartment or house, how would you want them to feel? What would you tell them is the coolest thing?

 

 

Tourist for a Weekend

photo courtesy of batteryparkcity.com

I realized this past weekend that since I’ve been living in New York for some time now, I don’t always appreciate it for all it has to offer. But when my family, including my brother and his wife who had never been to New York before, came to town this past weekend, I had the opportunity to look at the city with a tourist’s eyes.

Thinking of things for us to do while they were here was a lot of fun, and it reminded me that even though I’m a resident and New Yorkers tend to look down on tourists, it doesn’t hurt to do some touristy things every once in awhile and embrace the magnitude of history and sights the city has to offer. Aside from visiting my grandparents in the Bronx, we did some fun things, like browsing the stores on 5th Ave, going to Battery Park to glimpse the Statue of Liberty, checking out NYC souvenir shops and strolling through Times Square at night.

It was a true reminder of how much I really love this city. It’s been a dismal winter of walking briskly with my hood up and head down through the winter winds, but the weekend reminded me that it can never hurt to embrace a bit of the awe that comes when I look up at the Empire State Building, or when I take a moment to admire the view of the shining lights of Manhattan when I cross over a bridge into another borough. It was truly like reuniting with an old love, and as corny as it may seem, I just want to shout it from the rooftops: I Love New York.

Floor 36 Play Review: Platanos y Collard Greens

photo courtesy of platanosandcollardgreens.com

This weekend my parents were in town visiting. It was really nice to have them here, and it was kind of cool to look at the city as a tourist again as I tried to think of fun things for us to do.

They came by my office to see where I work as a New Yorker, and we went to visit my grandparents, and Saturday night had dinner at Rosa Mexicano in Union Square (love, love that place!) But my favorite part of the weekend was Saturday night, when we went to see an off-broadway show, Platanos y Collard Greens, which I had heard rave reviews about and had been meaning to see for awhile.

In a nutshell, I loved this show. The premise is about two Hunter College students: Angelita, a young Dominican woman (hence the Platanos in the title…platanos are a popular Latino dish of plantains) and Freeman, a young Black man (hence the Collard Greens in the title) who fall in love and try to learn to deal with the criticisms of their classmates (full disclosure: this is a topic that hits close to home — my mother is Puerto Rican and my father is Black). Freeman is called an “Uncle Tom” and deals with the taunting and hurt feelings of female black classmates who wonder why he chose a Latina instead of them; Angelita is faced with her Dominican mother’s prejudices about black men.

But the show went beyond the typical interracial relationship issues: it explored the intertwined roots and history of Latinos and Blacks, as well as the role music and the city of New York have played in the relationship between the two. The similarities in both African-American and Latino roots are so similar that it really got me thinking about how the separation, prejudices and even hatred between the two even came into existence.

There were definitely a few transitions in the play that could have been smoother, and a more advanced set design would definitely benefit the show. But all in all, it was everything you want from an off-broadway play: there were moments that brought tears to my eyes from both tenderness and laughter, and after the show, I left deep in thought. And all of the actors were young and I could literally feel their love for acting; it reminded me of the brilliance of New York actors. I could definitely imagine this show as a movie — a great romantic comedy!

No matter what your race, if you want a fun show that will teach you something new and make you laugh, I’d recommend everyone going to see it. In NY, it’s playing at Baruch College (Lexington Ave @ 25th St.) but the cast also goes on tours at schools and events around the country. You can see the schedule and get tickets at http://www.platanosandcollardgreens.com.